First of all, no, It Lives, It Breathes isn’t your standard metal outfit in that, well, they aren’t really a metal group by definition. While the band does include some hooks that often fall under the metalcore umbrella, they’re more of an alternative rock outfit that sometimes just likes to get a little heavier while mixing in electronica, dance club music, and even some Gorillas or Hollywood Undead influence with a far more jovial, upbeat atmosphere that can be a lot more fun than you would initially expect. “Prizefighter” is a good example of this, abandoning much of any actual metal influence for a lighter rock tinged club anthem complete with a random reverse airhorn in the background and electronic stingers. However, the simple bass-driven rhythm is fairly infectious in its simplicity, especially during the richer chorus that emphasizes more of a self-empowering theme while also degrading itself to cheesy lines like “we’re dropping bombs like Hiroshima” that are as out of date as they are oddly suiting to the unforgivingly modern mainstream build that is this guilty pleasure of a song.
“Lvnatic” takes that aforementioned electronica and modern alternative rock radio flair with some heavier riffs, primarily in the chorus and sudden burst of raspy shouting about two minutes in, and creates something that feels more like Novallo or A Breach of Silence had crossed paths with Demon Hunter for a party. Sadly, its biggest downfall is the last twenty-five seconds that seem poorly cut, igniting the introduction to “World War Me” which explodes with more of an Attila or Born of Osiris attitude that is never revisited. While the topic of a progressive rock/metal influence can be thrown about on this album, this tonal shift really just seems to be an odd choice to get the listener or crowd riled up, and nothing more. It doesn’t exactly hurt anything being there, but this one could have left it behind instead of using it as a preliminary trigger point for “The Eulogy”, which is like an odd mixture of Dope industrial elements and attitude crossed with enthusiastic proggy metalcore with the oft punk riff. And, really, this is how the band’s metallic side can seep through, which isn’t all that bad a thing.
Intentional or not, “Testify” does have a bit of an overlying Christian theme to it that can be a bit obtrusive on your first listen. But, in the grand scheme of the album in its entirety, it’s a great starting point by setting the expectations of the group’s mainstream appeal with that aforementioned metallic touch that helps to weave the electronica and metalcore infused modern metal sound. “Got No Time” often has some over-the-top guitars and keyboards that can be compared a bit to the grandious nature of power metal veterans Sabaton or Powerwolf with hints of metalcore courtesy the brief breakdown just past two minutes in, as well as elements comparable to the likes of The 69 Eyes as far as the base rock template goes.
At its core, It Lives, It Breathes is kind of the Chevelle of the “metal” world. Yes, the style tag is in quotation marks as this one simply dabbles in the realm for a heavier foundation some of the time, and isn’t exactly the obvious intention of the group. The real meat of the album is more an Attack! Attack! sound with a youthful progressive twist that leads to some incredibly fun and upbeat performances that have a little more variety to them than what you assume at first glance, or based solely on hearing the lead single “Got No Time”. If you’re willing to look past the elitist mentality and give It Lives, It Breathes a chance to entertain you, you’ll quickly learn that a lot of heat is simply bias speaking out against the group from individuals who misunderstand that this effort isn’t geared to them in the first place. Of course, this will require listening beyond the album’s first track to get a firm grasp on what the quartet is going for, but it’s worth the commitment and allowance of time for the recording to grow on you.